Can you explain the terms CVT and torque converter?

My wife and I are both nearly 70. I don't understand the terms 'CVT' and 'torque converter'. What matters to us is how hill starts are carried out. Could you please spare the time to explain?

Asked on 15 September 2012 by MM, via email

Answered by Honest John
A torque converter is a traditional automatic. Most will ‘hold’ a car on a hill by churning fluid between two paddled drums. A CVT is a clutched, continuously variable transmission and whether it will hold on a hill or not depends on the type of clutch, which may be torque converter or electromagnetic.

The answer to hill starts with any automatic is to use both feet. As you release the brake with your left foot you accelerate with your right, which also enables you to brake instantly if a problem occurs.
Similar questions
We are looking at buying either the Micra K13, Hyundai i10 or Kia Picanto. We are interested in the CVT models and wondered what connects the gearbox to the engines in these. Are they torque converters...
My Dad recently bought an automatic Fiat 500 petrol which he likes. I've driven it this weekend and when switching it off I found I could only put it into neutral. There seemed to be no (P) park selection...
I am contemplating the purchase of a 2008 Honda Civic 1.8 iVTEC EX fitted with an iShift gearbox. This does not have a torque converter but a clutch, as fitted to the 1.4 manual where the changes are made...
 

Ask Honest John

Value my car